Oil Massage Hair For Hair Growth + Shiro Abhyanga Benefits

In this article, we’ll discuss shiro abhyanga (head massage with Ayurvedic oils) as part of a daily regimen and its therapeutic benefits like promoting hair growth.

We’ll also see some research studies supporting the use of shiro abhyanga in various clinical conditions. So, how exactly does hair grow?

Hair Growth 101

oiling for hair growth shiro abhyanga

Hair grows out of tiny pockets in your skin called ‘follicles’. It grows from roots made up of cells of proteins. There are blood vessels under your scalp which feed the blood giving rise to more cells and thereby making the hair grow.

As it grows, it passes the oil glands (sebaceous) which add oil to hair keeping it shiny and lustrous. The hair shaft is the part of the hair you see outside is actually dead hair. It’s only the root that grows!

On average, hair grows at a rate of half an inch a month, or 6 inches a year. This rate can be affected by genetics, health, hormones, or hair damage. Ayurveda correlates human body to an inverted tree.

The head of the human body is considered as the root of the tree, the thorax and abdomen are the trunk of the tree and the limbs are said to be the branches of the tree.

Murdha Taila

Just like the roots nourish and affect the tree’s functions, our head is the uthamanga or the predominant part of the body.

There are different treatment procedures mentioned in the classical Ayurvedic medical texts for the head which are collectively known as murdha thaila.

Murdha thaila or the application of oil over the head is classified into 4 sub-types.

  • Shiro Abhyanga – Head Massage
  • Shiro Seka/Shiro Dhara – Pouring medicated oil over the head
  • Shiro Pichu – Keeping cotton dipped in oil over the vertex (top of the head)
  • Shiro Vasti – Pooling/ Oil is kept in a dam on the head

Each of these procedures has its own benefits but as per Ayurvedic scholar Vagbhata, they are more efficient when performed in the chronological order mentioned above.

Read More: Ayurvedic Spa Treatments

Regular application of oil on head, ears, and soles is emphasized by Ayurvedic treatise.1 Daily head massage (shiro abhyanga) has been advised as a part of dinacharya or daily regimen.

Therapeutic head massage or timely head massage as per the body constitution and disease should be performed for the prevention of Vata aggravation, psychosomatic diseases, and neurological conditions.

Oiling The Hair And Scalp Promotes Hair Growth

Ayurvedic Spa Treatments shiro abhyanga hair head oil massageShiro abhyanga improves blood circulation to the head.

The application of oil reduces the dryness of the scalp due to its snigdha or oily property. The oil is slightly heated at the time of application. The temperature creates a soothing effect at the site of application.

The heat causes the blood vessels to dilate, which increases blood circulation to the scalp and promotes healing, evacuation, and cleansing of the secretory passages of sebaceous glands thereby further enhancing the absorption of oil.2

How To Perform Shiro Abhyanga At Home

Head massage as a part of a daily regimen consists of soft and gentle massaging of the scalp with one’s fingertips. Hair loss can be prevented by oiling your hair like this regularly. Shiro abhyanga has other benefits as well.

Make sure you massage for at least 15 minutes in a day. The soft and gentle massage stimulates the blood vessels and ensures improved blood flow to the scalp.

Application of oil makes the scalp snigdha or unctuous thereby pacifying Vata and reducing dryness. It also prevents dandruff. In addition, the qualities of the herbs infused in the oil have their own added benefits as well.

For example, brahmi is very effective in managing anxiety.3 It is a brain tonic that enhances memory, intelligence, and longevity.

Brahmi is an herb for calming the brain and nervous system

It also has other benefits like pacifying vitiated doshas and improving conditions like skin diseases, neuralgia, inflammations, epilepsy, insanity, ulcers, splenomegaly, flatulence, fever, and general debility.

The alkaloid content in brahmi is enhanced when it is prepared with oil. This helps in deep penetration of the herb through the highly vascular scalp region.

Therefore, using an herbal oil infused with brahmi can give a significant improvement in sleep disturbances, restlessness, fear, and depression.

In addition, the pressure of the fingers on the scalp stimulates the shiro marmas and temperature of the oil further enhances the absorption of oil.

Benefits Of Shiro Abhyanga

Improves and rejuvenates central nervous system health.hair oil massage

Relieves pain, headaches, migraines, stress, and insomnia.

Improves vision, eye refraction errors, and eye strain.

Prevention of diseases pertaining to body, mind and sense organs.

Prevents diseases of Vata origin mainly degenerative diseases.

Prevents dryness of head and itching of the scalp.

Improves hair growth and nourishes the hair roots.

Delays premature greying of hair.

Therapeutic Significance Of Shiro Abhyanga 

Before practicing shiro abhyanga as a treatment for a particular condition, your prakriti (body constitution) and vikriti need to be assessed.

The Ayurvedic parameters for diagnosis and modern diagnostic procedures can help in examining the disease condition.

In certain clinical conditions, the patient is asked to shave or trim the hair as short as possible.  The next step is choosing the right oil depending on your constitution and disease.

Read More: Ayurvedic Oil – Everything You Need To Know

For Vata and Kapha conditions, the oil must be slightly heated whereas, for diseases with the predominance of Pitta, the oil should be used in room temperature without heating.

Another important thing to remember is that the oil used for abhyanga should not be heated directly on the flame.

Instead, it should be heated by keeping it in a bowl and placing it in a pot of boiling water. The oil should be warmed passively so that its medicinal properties are not lost.

Clinical Research On Shiro Abhyanga

The treatment options for improving the balance in degenerative cerebellar ataxias are very few.

Ayurvedic therapy including shiro abhyanga has been found to be safe and has shown improvement in balance in patients with progressive degenerative cerebellar ataxia.4

Anxiety has been defined as an unpleasant emotion described by Ayurveda as chittodwega. A study on the same showed a significant decrease in sleep disturbances, restlessness, fear, depression, and anxiety.

A head massage once in every 3 days for 15 minutes in 5 patterns were done for 7 sittings on 30 patients. All the subjects experienced stress relief and sound sleep right from the first session.

Benefits Of Shiro Abhyanga With Brahmi

Brahmi taila shiro abhyanga was found useful in anxiety neurosis and other similar conditions.5 In Ayurveda, loss of hair is coined as khalitya under the broad heading of shiroroga (head diseases).

Khalitya is a disease with Vata-Pitta dominancy.

Increased Pitta dosha along with Vata dosha at the root of hair follicle causes hair fall and at the same time, Kapha dosha with Rakt dosha blocks the roots of the hair follicle which results in khalitya.

A study on khalitya performed shamana nasya and shiro abhyanga on a group of patients. The study showed significant improvement in thinning of hair and improving the dryness of hair. 6

See Also: Ayurvedic Hair Conditioners + Remedies

Consult your Ayurvedic practitioner before trying shiro abhyanga or any Ayurvedic hair oil. 

References

  1. Ashtanga Hridaya by Vagbhata 9th edition by Varanasi Chaukambha Orientalia ; 2005. pg 26
  2. Perke B.M Evaluation of Role of Shiro Abhyanga with reference to Kesha swasthya (health of normal hair) Int. Res J. Pharm 2013; 4(3): 125-127
  3. Madhavika Prakash Chaudhari, KSR Prasad,Brahmi Thail Shiro abhyanga in Chittodwega ( Anxiety neurosis), pp 127-131
  4. Improvement of balance in progressive degenerative cerebellar ataxias after Ayurvedic therapy: a preliminary report. Neurol India. 2009 Mar-Apr;57(2):166-71. doi: 10.4103/0028-3886.51286.
  5. Madhavika Prakash Chaudhari, KSR Prasad,Brahmi Thail Shiro abhyanga in Chittodwega ( Anxiety neurosis), pp 127-131
  6. World Journal of Pharmaceutical Research 6(7) · July 2017

 

Arya Krishna is an Ayurvedic Practitioner, educator, and speaker. She completed her Bachelors in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) from Amrita School of Ayurveda, Kerala, India. She is registered as an Ayurveda doctor (Reg No: 14664) under the Indian Medical Council. She received a Fellowship in Orthopedic Rehabilitation from Apollo group of Institutions, Hyderabad. An editor with the International Ayurvedic Medical Journal, she previously served as the associate editor of the American Ayurvedic Journal of Health. Before moving to the US in 2015, she was Resident Medical Officer (Ayurveda) in AyurVAID hospital, Bangalore and has knowledge and experience in precision and evidence-based Ayurveda. She was an Ayurveda Domain expert with Health Connect 24 – a unique platform to bring together Ayurveda, Yoga and swadeshi. She is efficient in performing all Panchakarma procedures (purification therapies) and has knowledge of Marma Therapy. Other areas of expertise include Ayurveda diet and lifestyle, women’s health, and rasayana (rejuvenation). She works for the promotion and propagation of Ayurveda by offering lectures, webinars and contributing to various journals. She is a resource person for the Council of Ayurveda Research (CAR) and is an Ayurvedic blogger with Mother Earth Living. Currently, she is residing in Danville, Pennsylvania and is listed as a BAMS doctor with AAPNA (Association of Ayurveda Practitioners of North America). She is an Ayurveda Consultant and Educational coordinator with Be Mind Body Skin, New Jersey and Subject Matter Expert at At Home with Ayurveda, UK.

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